Sunday, October 14, 2012


LOOKING at old class documents and notes, I found this article written by David A. Korstad, from Sedgefield Atlanta, an  interior landscape merchant, selling, leasing and maintaining plants.  His focus is particularly interesting when putting things in perspective.  Why readers in USA or Australia for example, have shared their views about reiterative rants in terms of the dull gardenin practice/installations in Puerto Rico, with: 'we have the same here'.  If that is true,  then the root of the problem is similar.

I suggest while reading, to think about exterior landscaping. The principle of  profit and convenience from nursery people is the same anywhere. After one thousand posts, it is the first time I let one of them, in his own words describe what plant selection and gardening really i$$.

Schefflera, Areca palm, ferns, grape ivy and aralias are th most commonly used plants that I feel need the most care.

Schefflera, for many years the standard of the industry, is simply not resistant to any insects.  Mites, scale and mealy bugs will all infest the plant and are very difficult to get rid of. Since you must coat the underside of every leaf when using a contact insecticide, it is virtually impossible to kill all the insects.   This plant requires high light which compounds the insect problem, because the hotter it is, the fastest the insects  reproduce.

Areca palm is similar to schefflera as far as the disease problem.  It is not resistant  and is very difficult to spray. One other concern with this plant, is the watering. Be careful not let the plant wilt. Most other  varieties will rejuvenate after a good watering, but arecas will not ever be as attracive as before.

Ferns are  one of the most popular and sellable indoor plants, yet constant attention they demand, presents a maintenance problem for most of us.  The leaf shedding,  the amount of indirect, not direct,  light they need and the fact they can not be allowed to wilt are all major concerns.

Until recently* I have never thought of grape ivy  or oak leaf ivy problem plants, but the constant and losing battle I have been fighting against --powdery mildew-- has changed my mind. We have tried virtually every fungicide  on the market with almost no success. I would be interested to know of anyone else's experience with this problem.

Aralias are extremely sensitive to temperature changes,  watering practices, pesticides and virtually anything other than perfection.  While they are some of the most beautiful and unuauL plants we have to use, I do not know that have good luck with them. However, I will continue to buy them
because I know of nothing that can compare to a full, lush aralia.

These are just a few of the plants I use in my business.  I realize there are many more available.  Bromeliads, jade,
nephytis, Norfolk island pine and cactus, are all very popular 
plants that I use.  However, I will be here all day if I were to list every plant available to us.

A few other aspects of buying and selecting plants  that I consider important are in no particular order of importance,  cost versus quality, selling for profit and your holding area.

Obviously, we are all  very cost conscious  with today's economic situation.** I always try  to buy the best quality plant I can find, but I now  have to consider the cost versus the quality more than ever before. The wholesale of plants has been steadily increasing over the last years and most growers are predicting even higher costs.  This has meant that sometimes I can not afford the best quality because the market
will simply not bear my increased sale price.

We are all in this business to make a profit and often this means we have to buy the cheaper plant.  I do not mean that I will buy a plant of low quality,  but one that may not be the best.  

The holding area you have should also influence your selections.  Many people, myself included, are now using warehouses or other enclosed structures rather than greenhouses.  The fact that you will probably have less light
means you should select more lower light plants.  You will not 
be able to hold as many ficus, schefflera or other high light plants as you might like. This is specially true if you do not turn your inventory every three to five weeks.

My final advice is to beware of bargains.  Unless you have carefully checked all aspects of the plant. I would not buy bargains.  Most of these so-called bargain plants have either been sun grown or are plants the nursery has picked over.

Selecting quality plants to sell to the public is the reputation most of us live on. You should be prepared to spend time and money if you expect to do a good job.     

Editor's Note
** Before the financial/real estate bubble burst 

What can be added?  I had a once in a while commentator from Indonesia into the nursery business.  She stopped dropping by as my critical view on nurseries grew more abrasive. I rarely read articles like this.  It makes me think of pork bellies,  real estate and stock market.

If you think most or all gardens as in Puerto Rico stink, here, above are the reasons.  I am sorry to say/write this, but the pathetic situation in garden design/installation here and there where you are, is a result of market trends, demand and offer.  A critical stance, original plant selection seems water and salt, a drop in the ocean.

But if you are a wise gardener, you should not be trapped in buying plants like those mentioned in this article prone to insect pests and diseases even if  they are 'high quality' in the nursery, in your residence, they will surely pass away.

Judge your own context, inside or out, it will allow to see beyond  the  pretty flower or garden.  

that is that 





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